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I had selected an experience, which happened at my living place in Kuala Lumpur last year. This incident is concerned about a big quarrel between me and one of my housemates.
My approach to this experience will be similar to Kolb’s Learning Cycle. Kolb’s Learning Cycle explores the cyclical pattern of all learning from experience through reflections to conceptualizations, then to active experimentation (action), and to further experience (http://reviewing.co.ul/research/experiential.learning.htm).
In this paper, I will reflect on what’s my feeling toward this incident, how I analyzed my feelings in connection to my family upbringing and sociocultural standards as well as interpret the event from my housemate’s point of view. Then, I’ll identify the issues which my experience focuses on and relate to what have others written about the issues. Finally, I will identify my learning outcomes and weaknesses through this experience.
It was around one o’clock in Saturday afternoon. I was lying on my bed. The sun had rose high in the sky and the sunlight shone on my face through my window. I looked at my clock and was shocked to realize how late it was. When I walked out of my room after cleaning my face, I saw two of my housemates mumbling with each other with unhappy faces. Rachel, the youngest among us with straightened hair turned to me and said, “Alice, Gerald hasn’t been throwing the rubbish for days and it is full of worms now! Some more, he changed the arrow to point at MY name! How could he do this? This is unfair!” She almost cried.
It’s our house rule that each of us will take turn to throw the rubbish based on a sequence. If a person had thrown the rubbish, then he/she will change the arrow on our “duty board” to point at the name of the next person, indicating that it’s his/her turn to throw the next rubbish bag. As a house leader, I went to the kitchen and was shocked to see the pool of yellow and small garbage worms covering the rubbish bag. Some are even on our food rack! It was disgusting.
I went to knock on Gerald’s door. When he opened the door, the smell of his cigarettes’ smoke rushed out from his room. The smell was so thick that I coughed. I wonder why he never opens his window whenever he smokes.
“Gerald, could you please throw the rubbish for us now? Coz the bag is already full of worms. By the way, u shouldn’t have changed the arrow since you haven’t done your duty.” I said softly to this moody and introvert guy.
Unexpected, what I got was an angry and rude feedback full of “foul” languages, saying that he knew it’s his turn and he was planning to throw the rubbish later, and that he’s only changing the arrow in advance.
I was upset with his reaction but I remained calm and asked him to throw the rubbish because I wanted to clean up the kitchen. Instead of doing what I’ve requested, he mumbled something and slammed the door on my face! I felt embarrassed. Nobody has ever slammed a door on my face. I felt my rate of heartbeat increased. I gave myself a minute, standing there to cool myself down. Both of the girls in the living room looked at me with shocked faces. The house was extraordinarily quiet at that very moment. After a while, I knocked on his door again.
“WHAT?!?! I told you I’d throw it LATER! Don’t u understand what is LATER? Fxxk you!”
I was horrified! This wasn’t the first time for him to be rude. That’s it! This has gone too far. I’ve been trying to talk to him nicely and there he goes pouring me with rudeness and “foul” languages. I felt myself disrespected as a house leader. I shouted back at him with my face as red as a tomato and there goes “World War III”. By commanding him to throw the rubbish immediately and saying that if he’s unhappy with it, he can move out of the house, I ended the quarrel and went to my room, slamming the door behind me.
Beside anger, my feeling toward this incident is depress and contempt. By reflecting back to analyze the reason to what I felt, I identified two areas that may have impacted on my feelings:- my family upbringing and my socioculture environment at my hometown.
I stayed with my grandparents at Lawas since my mom gave birth to me until I was six years old, while my parents works in Brunei Darussalam. My grandfather is a reputable person in Lawas. I was raised in an environment where every action and movements are being controlled. I’ve been taught of how to sit, walk, eat, and speak in a proper and sophisticated manner. In my grandparent’s house, no shouting and improper languages or manners are allowed. I’ve never seen my grandparents got angry, even when I broke one of my grandfather’s favorite antique vases. This eventually turned me into a kid with good mannerism and has good control of my temper. As my grandfather always say, “Peace brings prosperity”. Consequently, I never raise my voice even if I am upset with someone and I don’t like people to do it to me either.
When I was 7 years old, my parents fetched me to Brunei Darussalam to stay with them. Like Malaysia, Brunei is an Islamic country. However, the people over there are very different from Malaysians. Their Islamic culture are very strong that most of them shows great courtesy to the people around them and are very polite. Growing in such a culture and way of socialization, it becomes hard for me to accept people with Gerald’s kind of behavior.
All these while, I have been tolerating with his yelling and bad behavior. This is because my upbringing made me allow him to do that. Maybe that’s why he has been doing it repeatedly as he thought I am a person with no temper. Another reason might be him trying to release his stress at work through anger. However, I lose my temper this time and responded back. Thus, I need to analyze and understand why I allowed him to do that repeatedly but suddenly burst into anger.
This experience touches on issues of religion, family upbringing, and anger (emotion).
There are many definitions for religion. According to Emil Durkheim, religion is a social institution involving beliefs and practices based upon a conception of the sacred. He suggested three major functions of religion:- social cohesion, social control, and offers a comforting sense to vulnerable humane human condition serves greater purpose (Macionis JJ, 1999: 481-483).
Reflecting on my incident, I realized that I’ve forgotten the second greatest commandment of the Bible, which is “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (MARK 12:31). I should, therefore, love him like I love myself. I shouldn’t have released my anger on him although he was being unreasonable. In fact, I should diminish my hatred and anger, just like what’s written on the Bible, “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (ROMANS 12:10).
Next, is my family upbringing. Family is the most influential socialization force which stands at the center of children’s lives. The family will transmit what they consider important in skills, behaviors, and attitudes to the children. They also passes social position to children that place them in society in terms of race, ethnicity, religion and class. These elements will eventually become a part of a child’s self-concept. Although some of them may change, social standing at birth affects children throughout their lives (Macionis JJ, 1999: 132-123). Thus, the way I was being raised and other various elements such as attitudes, values and beliefs that my grandparents and parents transmitted to me has a major influence on me. As I’ve mentioned earlier, my grandfathers’ popular verse is “Peace brings prosperity”. That’s why I’ve been letting Gerald behaved that way repeatedly and never responded back.
Anger is one of the elements in the Theory of Emotions. There are a number of Theories of Emotions such as the James-Lange Theory and Lazarus’ Cognitive Theory.
According to James-Lange Theory, emotions are specific feelings caused by changes in physiological conditions relating to the autonomic and motor functions (http:// plato.stanford.edu/entries/emotion/). It is proposed that people feel emotions if they are aware of their internal physical reactions to events, such as increased heartbeat rate or blood pressure (http://www.a2psychology.com/a2z%20guide/emotions.htm). When Gerald yelled at me and slammed the door on my face, I felt my heartbeat increased. This has aroused my physiological level to a certain level. When he yelled at me for the second time, I perceived that I’m in an uncontrollable situation that I burst into anger to cover up my fear of him. However, one problem with this theory is that it’s unable to give an adequate account of the differences between emotions such as anger and fear, and tempt one to treat emotions as brute facts. Emotions are capable of being not only explained, but also justified — they are closely related to the reasons that give rise to them (Taylor. G, 1975: 79).
The James’ theory also neglected that emotions involve evaluations. Richard Lazarus (1991) claimed in his theory (Lazarus’ Cognitive Theory) that appraisals are necessary for emotion and sees the identity of particular emotion as being completely determined by the patterns of appraisal giving rise to them (http:// plato.Stanford.edu/entries/emotion/). His theory is compatible with what Averill (1982) has written about anger.
According to Averill, anger is a conflictive emotion that’s related to aggressive systems and to social living, symbolization and self-awareness. (Strongman K.T, 2003: 133-134). He distinguishes conflictive emotions from impulsive emotions and transcentdental emotions, which involve a breakdown in the boundaries of a person’s self-esteem and accepted standards of control.
Reflect on my experience, I come to the realization that I got angry because I felt humiliated when he yelled and slammed his door on my face in front of other housemates. His behavior had exceeded my boundary of self-esteem. When he yells at me for the second time, I physiologically decided that this was out of my accepted standard of conduct. Therefore, I burst into anger and raised my voice on him.
In another analysis of anger by Lemerise and Dodge (1993), they proposed anger as serving a number of functions such as the regulation of physiological and psychological process related to self-defense and mastery (Strongman K.T, 2003: 134). I found their statement is very suitable to describe both Gerald and me. I became angry because deep down inside, I realize that his attitude has turned brutal. Thus, in order to defense myself, I chose an alternate way of expressing it by showing him that I am angry, with the intention to make him back off. This can also be used to explain his behavior in term that he was trying to defense himself by being rude and angry to me so that I wouldn’t be able to accuse him for being irresponsible and yet, changed the arrow on the “duty board” to another person.
From this experience, I learnt that I should stand still on my position at times. I shouldn’t have tolerated with his yelling repeatedly until he got used to it and became more and more terrible. I should’ve made it clear to him that I dislike his yelling and rude attitude at the very first time he did it to me in a proper way like saying, “It makes me upset when you…..”
My experience showed that I am weak in protecting myself from being treated badly and that I’ve over-compromised with things. I am also quite poor in my anger management. I realized that anger could be harmful, especially when I later regretted what I’ve done. However, anger can be beneficial if expressing it can promote reconciliation. Evidence to this is that Gerald apologized to me after the incident and never yelled at me anymore. In fact, he changed his attitudes toward me.
In terms of anger management, I shouldn’t have expressed my anger no matter how things went around. After the incident, Gerald and I had strengthened our relationship and improved our understanding of each other. In future, if similar incident occur again, I would’ve made it clear to that person that it was not okay for him/her treat me in such a way. I won’t be so emotional again in dealing with such incident. I will manage my anger the best way I could. I don’t consider myself successful in this issue, as I felt disappointed in not tackling it earlier. This incident wouldn’t have happened if I were successful in handling it.
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